Holy crap! What the heck was that?
After an uninspired, and uninspiring, start to the season, Mark Fox’s Georgia Bulldogs went on the road to face the top-ranked Indiana Hoosiers in the Legends Classic in New York. Frankly, I didn’t give the Hoop Hounds much of a chance, but, lo and behold, straight out of the gate, the Red and Black played with intensity, intelligence, focus, and purpose. In general, the Classic City Canines looked like a team that actually knew how to play basketball.
There was rebounding! There was defense! There was ball movement! There was shot selection! Where was this team the first three games of the season? A layup by Nemanja Djurisic gave Georgia the lead with 17:38 remaining in the first half, and the Bulldogs remained out in front until Christian Watford sunk the tying and go-ahead free throws with 5:43 showing on the clock. The Athenians headed to the locker room up, 30-29, on the No. 1 team in the country.
Over the course of the evening, Georgia shot 34 per cent from the field (17 of 50), but hit nine of 24 from beyond the arc (37.5%). The Hoop Dogs drained ten of 14 free throws and pulled down 16 defensive rebounds. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Vincent Williams poured in 14 points apiece in what undoubtedly was the Red and Black’s finest performance of the season.
Eventually, of course, the better club prevailed, as the Hoosiers justified their ranking by surging ahead in the second half to claim a 66-53 victory, but the Fox Hounds hung tough in a game in which they were expected to be run out of the building. This game, like Georgia’s previous couple of outings, failed to produce a Bulldog victory, but this game, unlike those two contests, produced something positive: hope. Coach Fox and his team did not win, but, after this afternoon’s game, I now believe they can win.